More Pollen!

During our second week of the Summer School Students Workshop 2018 at the The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, we observed the diversity of flowers using the Foldscopes we assembled the week before.

Here is a lovely bouquet of flowers we collected from around us:

Lets start with our “model” flower, the Chembarathi or Hibiscus:

(Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

Here’s its spiney pollen under the microscope:

Here’s a another common ornamental plant, the creeping daisy, and its numerous tiny pollen

(Sphagneticola trilobata)

Here’s a not so common ornamental plant and its pollen,

I think its version of the common Kanakambram (Crossandra infundibuliformis)

The African Tulip tree is also in flower now:

(Spathodea campanulata)

Here’s its pollen:

Here’s a young Maghzam trees’ delicately fragrant blossoms:


(Mimusops elengi)

Here’s what its pollen and stigma look like:

Finally, for some of the flowers we tried, like this flower, I think we missed the pollen part of its life cycle 🙁

(Can you guess what flower this is?)

For others trying to collect and see pollen, here’s what we learnt:

  1. The whorls of the flower are not always exactly as in the model flowers you find in textbooks!
  2. Flowers mature over the course of days and its hard to tell if its in a “pollen stage” or “stigma stage”. If you want to see pollen, its probably better to pick a flower off the ground than off the plant/tree: that way you know its fully matured.
  3. Pollen colour is hard to see. Especially with the usual Foldscope LED from behind the sample. We did try taking images without the LED light but they weren’t quite as nice. Maybe we should try with epi-illumination like we did here:

Sea urchin spike

Leave a Reply